A typhoon that slammed into central Vietnam has set off at least two landslides that buried villages and towns, left more than 50 people dead or missing and compounded the misery of a country already struggling with catastrophic floods.
Typhoon Molave was one of the biggest storms to hit the country in two decades, bringing a second round of deadly landslides there this month. Torrential rains and flooding set off a mudslide on Oct. 18 that leveled soldiers’ barracks in Huong Phung Commune, in the central coastal province of Quang Tri.
Officials said the deaths could be the country’s largest military loss in peacetime.
The typhoon, packing 85-mile-per-hour winds, cut power to millions of people and damaged 56,000 houses, the Vietnamese government said.
By Thursday morning, 15 bodies had been pulled from the rubble, according to the local news media.
The storm set off two landslides in Quang Nam Province on Wednesday afternoon, the state-run news outlet VnExpress reported, burying 53 people.
Two fishing boats sank in Binh Dinh Province on Tuesday night while trying to seek shelter from the storm, and 26 fishermen remain missing. Two navy vessels mobilized to find them, Reuters reported.
Rescue efforts at the site of the landslides were hampered by the bad weather.
“The road is covered under deep mud and heavy rains are still lashing the area, but rescue work has to be carried out quickly,” Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, who went to the district on Thursday to direct the rescue efforts, said in a statement.
Before it moved west to Vietnam, the typhoon killed 16 people in the Philippines over the weekend, according to local news reports.
Scientists say that global warming is fueling more frequent and more catastrophic storms and flooding across the world.
In the United States, Hurricane Zeta lashed the Louisiana coast on Wednesday with heavy rainfall and powerful winds that officials feared could pulverize parts of New Orleans as the storm made landfall with Category 2 strength. It is the fifth major storm to hit the state this year.
Vietnam’s central coast has been devastated by widespread flooding over the past weeks, with at least 114 people killed this month. Hundreds of thousands of houses have been submerged in water.
Rapid development and deforestation have exacerbated the damage caused by seasonal flooding.
The country has been hammered by storms, heavy rains and floods since early this month, and more than one million people have been affected.
Heavy rain of up to 27.5 inches will continue in parts of central Vietnam until Saturday, the country’s weather agency said.